|The Securities & Exchange
Commission estimates 3 million stockholders are
entitled to unclaimed stock worth $10 billion.
Additionally, $500 million in lost stock dividends go uncashed each year. A wave of corporate mergers,
acquisitions, restructurings, share spin-offs and name
changes has dramatically increased the amount of lost
stock and unclaimed dividends.
If you're a
stockholder in a company that merged or was acquired, you
may be entitled to collect spin-off shares, cash
distributions or dividends from the restructuring, even
if shares were sold long ago. Former owners of AT&T, for example, may be
eligible to receive shares in nearly a dozen other companies.
Perhaps the largest source
of unclaimed stock over the last several years has resulted from the
recent demutualizations of major life insurance companies, including
Metropolitan Life (MetLife), Prudential, John Hancock and others.
Demutualization is the process of converting a mutual life insurance
company, which is owned by its policyholders, into a publicly traded
stock company owned by shareholders.
Literally millions of
policyholders and heirs aren't aware they are entitled to claim
billions in demutualization compensation. When John Hancock demutualized, it did not have current
addressed for 400,000 policyholders. Prudential could not find 1.2 million
policyholders entitled to receive compensation, and Metropolitan Life
has 60 million shares of stock - worth some $3 billion - that have
Claims should be initiated as soon as possible, as unclaimed
stock may be sold by government custodians.
deceased relative invest in stocks, bonds or mutual funds? Are dividend
checks and bond interest payments missing? Were stock
certificates lost or destroyed? In most cases they can be
replaced. Even if a stock or mutual fund is no longer
listed on an exchange do not assume it's worthless -
shares may still have significant value, even if a
company filed for bankruptcy.
Note beneficial owners -
those whose shares are held in street name - have dividends and interest
payments sent to a bank or broker. If stock or mutual fund shares were
owned by a deceased family member, you may never receive notice of
for unclaimed stock, a lost bond or missing mutual fund shares, and to
trace uncashed interest payments and dividends that may be owed after a merger,
restructuring, demutualization or other reorganization, order our Special Report: